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Aussies Participate In Fleet Battle Experiment

NEWPORT, R.I. --- The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) are participating as coalition partners with the U.S. Navy in this year’s Fleet Battle Experiment (FBE)-Kilo.

FBE-Kilo, developed and executed by the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), is a three-week joint war fighting experiment, bringing together live field forces and computer simulations at various locations in the United States and the Pacific.

Coalition partners are participating in one of eleven experimental initiatives being examined during FBE-Kilo. The Joint Fires Initiative implements a mix of both prototypes and current Navy systems and processes, to improve the execution of time sensitive targeting. It employs a sensor-to-shooter fires network using simulated and experimental platforms.

A key goal of this experiment is to enhance interoperability between the U.S. Navy and RAN, by experimenting with the integration of coalition forces in a digital fires network through information. This is being achieved by the use of distributed modeling and simulation, and advanced networking capabilities.

Participating in the experiment is the Australian virtual ship, vANZAC, a simulated Australian destroyer equipped with potential future capabilities, operated from the Fernhill laboratory in Canberra, Australia. The lab is run by DSTO, part of Australia's Department of Defence, which provides ‘expert, impartial advice on the innovative application of science and technology to the defense of Australia.’

The goal is to achieve a higher degree of integration between the virtual ship and the Joint Semi-Automated Forces modeling and simulation capability maintained in the lab here at NWDC, said Dr. Darren Sutton, an Australian Scientist on exchange from DSTO to the NWDC.

The new NWDC modeling and simulation lab is coordinating the virtual participation of several other platforms, in addition to the vANZAC. A virtual next generation E2-C Hawkeye is being generated from a mobile simulator parked next to the NWDC lab; a virtual next generation destroyer (vDDX) is being generated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va.; and a virtual submarine and unmanned underwater vehicle are added from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport. The simulations even include live video feeds from virtual Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (vUAV).

Each of these simulations are fed from the lab at NWDC to ships operating off Guam where shipboard systems are stimulated with actual radar, acoustic and electronic data, as if the actual platforms were participating in the event.

A number of Royal Australian Navy officers are operating the experiment command and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems (C2ISR) aboard the vANZAC in the Fernhill lab. They are supported by joint Australian and U.S. technical teams in both Canberra and Newport, and are represented in the experimental strike warfare commander’s staff on USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) operating in the Pacific Ocean by an RAN and a U.S. Navy officer.

The experiment is exploring intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance management, including cross-cueing of coalition and U.S. sensors and weapons through the time sensitive targeting process of "Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage and Assess." U.S. forces' call for fire missions are executed by the virtual ANZAC, and the architecture supports dynamic battle space scenarios for U.S. and coalition forces.

Through this initiative, the U.S. Navy is able to assess the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of coalition forces, and facilitate matching future missions with capabilities. This initiative also assists in determining coalition forces' interoperability requirements, and aids the Royal Australian Navy with their future transformation efforts and investment decisions, with a focus on the requirements for a credible surface land-attack capability.

As shown by the recent war in Iraq, the relevance of this experiment is even more significant. The future of warfare lies in coalitions, says Sutton. This experiment will help build relations, provide exposure and help to ensure that the Royal Australian Navy is able to more fully integrate its capabilities in future engagements.

Projecting and sustaining power in distant theaters, enhancing time sensitive targeting while using information technology to link up U.S. and coalition forces so they can fight jointly, are a critical aspect of future warfare. The annual Fleet Battle Experiment continues to assess the relevance of new operational concepts in the Navy of the future, and their results will continue to accelerate the delivery of innovative warfare capabilities to the U.S. Fleet and our coalition partners.

-ends- Australian Partners Take Part In Fleet Battle Experiment Kilo